The Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo, has evaded capture again, as reported by NBC News.
Last week, Mexican marines closed in on a ranch in Sierra Madre that was believed to be the hideout of El Chapo. As the marines entered the camp, El Chapo fled the area, sustaining injuries to his leg and face.
In a statement released on Friday, Mexican officials said that U.S. drug agents tracked El Chapo through intercepted cell phone signals. When marines entered the camp on foot, El Chapo and his associates fled on ATVs. It is unclear how the drug lord sustained the injuries, but the statement released by the Mexican Security Cabinet indicated there was no direct confrontation between El Chapo and the Mexican marines.
“It is important to note that these injuries were not the result of a direct confrontation.”
In anticipation of the military operation to recover El Chapo, around 600 or 700 people fled the area in fear, as reported by the New York Post. A mayor in that area told the Associated Press in a telephone interview that people were taking refuge from the shooting and violence going on in the area during the search for El Chapo.
“Some told us that they had been walking up to six days from parts of the mountain zones. They came very afraid.”
The spokesman for the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights of Sinaloa, Oscar Loza, indicated that starting October 6, the organization began getting requests for help from people in the search area who were afraid of getting caught in the crossfire of the marines in pursuit of El Chapo.
“Saturday the 10th we were able to get to one of the communities, called El Verano, and they received us in tears. They were very afraid.”
Heraclio, a man who lived in the area that El Chapo was taking refuge in, said that there were shootings and grenades exploding, despite the fact that the marines knew there were women and children in the area.
“They came shooting at my brother’s ranch.”
El Chapo is hiding out because he is currently on the run after breaking out of Altiplano Federal Prison via a mile long tunnel that led out of his prison cell shower. The drug kingpin had been arrested in February of 2014, and has been serving time in Mexico with the U.S. calling for his extradition to serve time in the U.S.
In July, El Chapo escaped the federal prison through a tunnel that opened in the floor of his prison cell shower, which was located conveniently in a blind spot of the security camera. The security video shows El Chapo watching television. After a while, he gets up to change shoes, then walks over to squat near his shower and disappear from view. In the video, loud hammering can be heard over the noise of the TV. It took the guards 25 minutes to send a guard to check on El Chapo and another few minutes for a guard to go into the tunnel in pursuit of the prisoner. This allowed plenty of time for El Chapo to get a pretty good head start on his escape. The prison did not declare a Code Red Emergency until three hours after his initial escape.
Supposedly, El Chapo was aided by a pilot with a small, personal airplane that flew him far away from the prison. A pilot was recently arrested for his part in helping El Chapo escape.
This is not the first time El Chapo broke out of prison. In 2001, the drug lord escaped another maximum security facility with the help of the prison guards.
El Chapo is wanted in both the U.S. and Mexico for charges relating to drug trafficking.
[Photo Courtesy of Spencer Platt/Getty Images]